Today, we have a guest blogger. Her name is Melissa Vieira and lives in Massachusetts. We have never had the pleasure of meeting her but we’ve developed a very special and unique friendship with her. We have influenced her so much she got our “EAND” mission statement tattooed on her. She wanted to share her story about a dog named, Corky, that changed her life. Thank you, Melissa. Here’s her story…
Thanksgiving day 2015, I received a text from a friend of mine who had adopted a dog from the shelter I formerly volunteered at. The dog was a Pitbull mix and his name was Corky. The text pretty much read, “Please call me when you have the chance. Corky bit somebody.” When I read this text, I was getting ready to spend time with my family before I had to head off into work for the evening. As soon as I saw what she had said my nerves were out of control and my hands wouldn’t stop shaking. Horrified, thinking about what could have possibly triggered Corky to bite.
Now, before I get into this story, let me tell you a little about Corky- whose name was derived from his tail which was shaped like a cute little cork screw. Corky was a young dog that, at the shelter, was what somebody would call ‘out of control’. He was rescued from a kill shelter down south and was on the euthanasia list. Corky was full of energy and wanted to play with you 24/7. I would take him outside in the yard and he would just run and run without an ounce of exhaustion in sight. Whenever it was time to get him inside his crate, it was always a game to him, and it would take me forever to finally close that crate door.
One day I decided to take him out for a walk. I got him in my car, we ran some errands, and then we walked around the beach. While we were on the walk Corky was a completely different dog. He didn’t pull on his leash; he just walked side by side with me, very calm. Once I had experienced this with him, I decided that walks were what he needed to channel his energy in a positive way. One day, I took him out for a walk around the park with my Fiancé Brittany and my friend Sean. A few people would walk away from us because Corky had “Pit Bull” like features such as a strong muscular build and the “block” head. I got irritated, but didn’t let it get to me because Corky didn’t even realize people judged him. He just would continue his walk like nothing had happened with that goofy grin he always wore. We saw a lemonade stand that a little girl had set up and decided to get something to drink. We walked over, and as we did I noticed her mother putting their dog inside the house. I thought to myself, “Oh man, I hope they don’t make an issue out of us walking over here.” To my surprise, we got to talking to her mother and she was saying she had only put her dog inside because she didn’t know how her dog would react to an unfamiliar dog. She gave Corky some water, and he just kept going up to them for some petting and kisses. The mother brought her dog outside and he did not like Corky one bit. He kept snapping at him but Corky stood his ground and never barked, growled, or even flinch. He just let it be.
One day at work, my friend came up to me asking about Corky. I told her the truth about him. How he has a lot of energy, but when on walks alone, he is good. He is just a hyper dog who needs positive stimulation. She was very adamant about adopting him. Long story short, her application was approved and she asked me if I would do the home visit. I went to her house where Corky and I were greeted by a Great Dane named Harley. The decision of her being able to adopt Corky would be based on this home visit and the meet & greet with Harley. Needless to say, we let go of the leashes, and they loved each other. They played, laid down across from each other, everything how it should be. It was like a perfect match.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day, I called her after receiving that text message. She was crying on the phone telling me what had happened. She was letting Corky and Harley out into her yard before she had to go into work. Somehow, Corky had run out of the yard and into her neighbor’s yard. Her neighbor had a very small dog who had never met Corky before. Her neighbor also didn’t know Corky was her dog, he thought he was ‘the vicious Pit Bull from down the street.’ Nervous, he had quickly picked up his dog. The rushed, sudden action surprised Corky, and he bit his arm hard enough to cause nerve damage. While she was telling me this, she started explaining why Corky had done what he did. Corky was trying to play with the other dog, but when the owner snatched his dog up very nervously, he thought the man was hurting the small dog so he acted on it. I’m not saying it was right, but I believe he didn’t do it maliciously.
My friend called the owner of the shelter where I used to volunteer and where she had adopted Corky. They agreed to take Corky back, but didn’t tell her what the outcome would be. The shelter simply stated he would be quarantined. She was running late and really had to get to work, so when the owner of the shelter never showed up she ended up calling Animal Control. My friend had decided that Corky would be better off in a different home and assumed somebody else would adopt him after he was ‘quarantined.’
Upon arrival to her house, Animal Control had her sign surrender papers. Once the papers were signed they took Corky into the back of the van and shut the door. As they were getting ready to leave my friend asked, “So what happens now? Is he going to be quarantined and re-adopted? How does this work?” The Animal Control Officer stated, “No. He’s going to be euthanized and his head will be sent to Boston.” She didn’t know what the consequences of surrendering Corky to Animal Control would be. She was not aware that it would be as intense as it was especially since nothing was said to her about euthanasia or anything close to that nature. Her neighbor had to be sent to the Emergency Room, and let’s just say it was not a pretty outcome when it came to housing insurance, etc. The shelter I volunteered told me after the fact, “We would have put him down too.”
That day, I was a wreck. I still put on my poker face and went into work. When I arrived there my friend pulled me into a room and sobbed uncontrollably. It took everything inside me to hold myself together. She felt so horrible, and kept saying, “I didn’t know they were going to put him down. If I had known that, I would have made him comfortable, or I would have taken him out one last time or something. I feel so terrible. He’s such a good dog. I’m never adopting another dog again.” In that moment I said in a vulnerable state, “I don’t blame you.”
Since that day I haven’t stepped foot into an animal shelter. I felt betrayed and heartbroken, hell I still feel heartbroken. I have a hard time looking at photos of him and I keep asking myself, “Was there a sign that he was going to bite somebody and I just couldn’t read it?” The question that haunted me the most was, “If he had gone to a different home in a different scenario, would he still be alive?” But honestly, nobody could have predicted this to happen. I could have bet money on it that he would have never bit somebody. Nobody is at fault here. Corky made a bad judgement call. That man made a bad judgment call as well, and corky suffered because of it. My friend suffered because she had lost her dog. Honestly she is truly a wonderful person, and it breaks my heart how all of this has happened. That day I could see it in her face how badly the loss of Corky had affected her.
Truth is, I didn’t mean it when I said, “I don’t blame you.” I will still always 100% advocate for shelter animals. It took me a while to come to terms with what had happened. I wasn’t ready to volunteer again because I didn’t want to get close to another dog, and have something bad happen again. It tears my heart every single time Corky pops into my head because the truth is, he was a GREAT dog. He just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Corky didn’t mean to bite that man, I believe that. He bit that man because he thought the small dog was in danger. Corky always got along with every single dog we ever introduced him to, and every single person. He truly was a wonderful companion. I have to keep reminding myself that bad things can happen to the wrong people/animals. I just pray that the man who was bitten finds it in his heart to forgive.
After I came to terms with what had happened and how I need to deal with it, I re-evaluated myself. I reached out to John Flores and asked him if I could get a tattoo of IPittyTheBull’s mission statement. That way, I could always have something with me that would remind me to stand my ground, and to stay true to how I feel. I got the abbreviations to “Educate. Advocate. Never discriminate” on the top of my wrist so it’s always in plain view.
I’ve learned that it is important to get to know a dog before you get scared of him/her. “Pit Bulls” will not just ‘turn on you’ as the myth states. Any dog could bite someone; in this situation a “Pit Bull” was simply trying to protect another dog. If a dog runs up to you, do not grab your things and run. Stand your ground and remain calm, give them a chance to show you who they are. You wouldn’t judge a person simply by the way they look, would you?
I’ve struggled for a long time over the thought of going back to rescuing and volunteering. This week I went back to volunteering little by little at first. I’m excited, but nervous. I feel like I’ve had this void in my heart and knowing I’ll be helping out again- my hearts starting to feel a little whole once more.
I love you, Corky. I’ll never forget you bud.
“I have a dream that one day I will not be judged by my appearance, but by the content of my character.”